Mercury Retrograde
1995 by Antero Alli

Publisher's Note: Mercury Retrograde seems to affect people differently and some proclaim, "not at all." In fact I know people who regularly look forward to Mercury Retrograde because they appear to experience more connectivity and success with things which they are already involved in.

This is only a test...

How many astrologers do you know, yourself included, who tend to behave in a peculiar fashion when Mercury goes retrograde? I mean peculiar as in the self-created anxiety attacks (Oh, no, Mercury's retrograde!) or gestures of personal resignation (Let's not do anything until Mercury goes direct.) I've often wondered, perhaps naively, what the fuss was all about until deciding to conduct several periods of my own during Mercury retrogrades. What I discovered was also peculiar, but in the way the faculty of memory is peculiar. Times of Mercury retrograde seemed to demand of me a greater dependence on memory to solve my daily problems and to communicate more effectively with others. Without working consciously my memory, communications did tend to "short-circuit" or "cross wires". So, I saw what the fuss was all about but was dismayed that I found nothing written, no books, about how to respond more creatively to this unusual opportunity for what I must call self-remembering.

The timing of Mercury retrograde rings like a bell in a Zen monastery reminding the monks walking the grounds to remember the moment before them and to wake up to their own existence in this moment as it passes before them. The bell rings perhaps once or twice before most of the monks respond, and then it is really the body's memory of the sound that reminds them; they remember the bell and respond with more awareness. From this point of view, memory is everything. We can only remember each moment as the next moment is already replacing the last in an ongoing eternal now. What we think is present time is actually our memory of present time. I do not mean to be spouting Zen koans here, but stating simple truths often taken for granted. When Mercury goes retrograde, people tend to to stumble over their passing moments to the extent that they are not working to remember them. During Mercury retrograde, it seems, memory is everything.

This is a memory test

Mercury retrograde works on our consciousness as a kind of memory test. The kind of blunders we make during Mercury retrograde, especially with words and communication, may indicate the degree of self-remembering lacking in those instances. For example, when attempting long-distance communications (via phone fax or modem) during Mercury retrograde, try doing a little more footwork before making the call. Clarify your intent. Imagine the history of the person you are trying to reach. Get a sense of where they might ne coming from with any knowledge you may have of their circumstances: their family, their job, their personal interests. When entering Mercury retrograde with a more prepared memory, one may be surprised at how curiously communications can unfold.

It's safe to assume that most astrologers accept Mercury as asymbol of the human faculty of intellect and that this intellect shows many atributes. When functioning it solves problems, translates experience into information, thinks and informs the mind about what to say and write, and develops complex modes of conceptual interaction with itself and other intellects. At the rudimentary level, intellect enables us to learn and to educate ourselves. It's our way of processing information. And, lest we forget, all information is processed, organized and made accessible to recall through memory.

During the time of Mercury retrograde it is my assumption that the information levels of the universe undergo increasing complexity and density, demanding more effort on the behalf of its human translators to process a little than usual with more research, more recall and more memory. I use the computer as a loose but yet effective analogy: to run heavier loads of information at higher speeds, you must add more memory. If you don't the time it takes the computer to process slows down significantly or fails to function at all and it's time for a memory upgrade. Sounds a little like Mercury retrograde to me.

The spiritual function of intellect

The chief spiritual function of the intellect rests in the capacity of paying attention. Any intellect who has forgotten how to stop, look and listen has already developed a learning problem. in its more advanced stages of myopia, the frenzied intellect shuts down and fragments under stress of its own closed systems and assumptions. This fragmentation contributes to such familiar symptons as loss of concentration, a slowness or difficulty in learning new concepts, an ongoing repetition of similar errors, and a propensity to interrupt the converstaions of others. The solution to these problems depends on your personal commitment to paying attention to whatever is happening and the mental fortitude to register that it is happening.

Developing the intellectual function of the "silent witness" can allow for new kinds of learning, which is to say learning new ways to keep learning. The silent witness is the same thing as an open mind. Its foil is the critic, judge or persecutor, depending on how imbalanced or paranoid a mind has become. During times of Mercury retrograde, we can discover the degree our critics, judges and persecutors are attempting to control our communication processes by the failures created in our attempts -- or lack therof -- for reaching others.

We are reminded how difficult it is to communicate at all unless we are willing to do the footwork and research to"upgrade memory and download more density". The clanging bells of a Mercury retrograde period are, in effect, opportunities for checking in how conscious we are. If we resist the work of self-remembering, it is safe to assume that communications will run haywire as ill-prepared intellects scramble and shut down in a futile attempt to process new density. When you hear astrologers say, "Oh, no, Mercury's retrograde!" what they really mean is, "Oh, no, what a lazy mind I have."

ANTERO ALLI is the author of ASTROLOGIK and the new LETTERS, ESSAYS & PREMONITIONS: An Astrologikal Journal (both on Vigilantero Press) plus other books updating archaic mystical systems. To receive his free catalog of books, tapes & services, call his 24-hour information line at (206) 781-5691 and record your name and address or visit his website at ParaTheatrical ReSearch media arts & information services.

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